In an hour, the first hearing of the trial of former Democratic Party of Japan leader Ozawa Ichiro will open. He is charged with being a co-conspirator in the financial crimes of his former political secretaries Ishikawa Tomohiro, Okubo Takanori and Ikeda Mitsumoto (en).
The charges against Ozawa are bogus or at very worst unprovable. The Tokyo Prosecutors Office looked at the accusations twice. Both times the prosecutors decided that there was no case. That Ozawa is facing a judge today is due only to the efforts of the shadowy Association of Those Seeking The Truth in convincing the No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution (are these terms Stalinist enough for you?) that it should command a judge to appoint three lawyers as prosecutors.
The mainstream new media, which hates Ozawa, is having a field day...and will have several field months (the conventional wisdom is that the judge will issue a decision in April. I am not so sure the wheels of the law will grind so quickly) describing what will be dramatic exchanges of paper between the defense lawyers, the prosecuting lawyers and the judge.
Despite Ozawa's previous stint as the supreme authority in the DPJ and his behind-the-scenes running of the government during the brief Hatoyama Cabinet, it is unlikely that his trial will seriously affect the image of the DPJ or the proceedings of the Diet. The DPJ has quarantined Ozawa by stripping him of his party privileges: he is a Democrat in name only. As for the demands from the opposition parties that Ozawa explain himself, either behind closed doors before the Ethics Committee (the Socialists) or in sworn testimony before the Diet (everybody else), the Noda administration will simply reply that it has no intention to interfere with the actions of another branch of the government and can we get back to discussing the third supplementary budget?
And that will be it.
But on this morning, it is all Ozawa, though in a strangely very low key way.
Later - Here he is.
Ozawa Ichiro arriving at the Tokyo District courthouse at around 9:25 a.m.
Image courtesy: Yomiuri Online
Later still - An example of the kind of press puffery that has dogged Ozawa Ichiro for years, this from The Asahi Shimbun of September 29 (Link).